Consumers of Residential Real Estate: Buyers Beware & Sellers are Clueless

For years the phrase “buyer beware” is a good mantra to heed. In fact, home and condo buyers today have access to lots of information that helps them make good decisions. One of the best decisions buyers can make is to work with an experienced buyer’s agent. Give home buyers a thumbs up for getting better at home purchasing process.

And now for you sellers, at least those of you who hire and contract licensed real estate agents and brokers to list and sell your home. You’re clueless. I am the first to admit and even advocate that the best chance to sell a home is by using a Realtor. So why am I slapping sellers in the chops?

Because sellers have no real understanding about the qualities of the Realtor who is going to list their home. Really, what criteria do sellers use when selecting a competent listing agent? What kind of clothes they wear, what country club they belong to, the resemblance of a distant relative? Bear in mind that 80% of all consumers who hire a real estate broker do so after speaking to only one agent. Eight out of ten.

Sellers have no real understanding when it comes to differentiating between listing agents.

But here is a fact: Sellers have the best chance to sell their home by using the top producing listing agents who work specific areas.  Sellers may see real estate signs, have friends who “know” other realtors, or just have one who lives across the street, but how does a seller know who is a good listing agent or a bad one? They simply don’t.  They are clueless. Questions like where they sell, how much they sell, how they market, what’s the average DOM? (days on market), what’s their average list to sales price? – these important questions are often left out of a seller’s dialogue.

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Home owners have their best chance to sell a home when using the top producing listing agents in the specific home area.

True story below.

Last year some friends of mine moved out of state. They had heard of the consulting concept, but brushed it off because they had befriended a Tucker agent who went to the same church. They felt comfortable with this agent and I guess it was the biblical setting that reassured them. (Part of the 80%, at this point).

Ok, I begged them to let me provide the agent statistics for their tony neighborhood in Carmel. I got my foot in the door when I offered to provide stats for the Tucker agent they felt so good about. After all, the consulting service is free, and the seller gets an advocate to help them during the entire pre-listing period. Sellers should beware that the motive of any listing agent is a contract signature.

I showed up in Carmel a few days later at their house with fresh agent data, including the sales production of the Tucker agent who sat next to them in church. I walked inside, greeted them then handed the stat page to the wife (who is a practicing attorney). Five seconds is all it took her to X-nay the Tucker agent. Yes, the nice one from church. Why? Sorry, but nice won’t cut it: the facts were that she had not sold any residential homes in the county where the sellers resided. What?  Plus, the last 6 months the agent had only 4 sales with two of them being commercial. “She’s out.” The wife said after looking at the recent production.

Then we sat down and I showed them the top listing agents in their area and price range and we compared agent to agent until we narrowed it down to three top agents. Yes, the seller has to listen to three extremely qualified listing agents who are proven sellers in this very area. After three good (and separate) interviews, sellers have a very good idea about their home value and what it will take to sell it.

After three separate interviews (no listing contract signed yet) sellers are no longer clueless. They are educated. For free.

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How Good is Your Real Estate Transaction? As Good as Your Agent!

Do consumers really think that the logo on any Realtor’s jacket has anything to do the the quality of a real estate transaction? Frankly, the logo has zilch to do with the buyer or seller’s forthcoming experience.

Branding may influence consumer choices when it comes time to selecting an agent to represent them in a residential home transaction. But as the quality of the consumer experience goes, it really boils down to the competency of the Realtor they have working for them. The agency has very little to do with the ability of the Realtor.

An agent may have a nationwide or regional brokerage behind him, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the consumer gets a quality agent for the transaction. This is the principal reason Errors and Omissions Insurance was created for the real estate industry.

Consumers do better with single agent representation - better than swimming of the deep end!

Consumers do better with single agent representation – better than swimming of the deep end!


Consumers rarely know anything about the agent they hire, unless it’s on a personal level. Realtors are some of the most personable people you will meet. But what does that tell you about their experience, savvy, due diligence, organization, attentiveness, or other traits that set good agents apart from poor ones? What tells the consumer they are getting a good agent?

Nearly all potential home buyers or sellers are at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with any Realtor. You are on their turf because of the complexity of any real estate transaction. They are still clueless when it comes to asking the right questions to find out about the experience and ability of the Realtor they have working for them.

So what should consumers do to make sure the agent working for them is any good? Answer: Ask the right questions.

Questions for a listing agent:
How many homes have you sold in the last 12 months? Where did you sell them? How many listings are you servicing now? What is your average days-on-market? What is your average list to sales price? Ideally, it is great when consumers can get the listing agents statistical data. This info is generally not available to the public so you have to ask for it.

Questions for a buyer’s agent:
How many buyers do you represent at a time? How many buyer transactions have you closed? How often are you available to your buyers? Do you list properties and if so, how many? (Listings take time and servicing them can put constraints on the availability of the agent)

There are other good questions to ask, but the point is for consumers to ask questions!